Cases of whooping cough dramatically increase across country
According to the Public Health Agency the number of annual confirmed cases of whooping cough has increased by more than 200% already this year. The PHA has said that there have been 27 confirmed cases so far this year, in comparison to the 13 confirmed in all of last year.
The cough is said to be highly infectious, causing a hacking cough followed by a sharp intake of breath. Symptoms can last up to ten weeks. Babies under a year old are said to be at particular risk if suffering from symptoms.
PHA consultant Dr Richard Smithson said, “The vaccine for whooping cough is included in a jab that also protects against diphtheria, polio, Haemophilus influenza type B – a cause of meningitis – and tetanus. Children should receive a booster at around three and a half to four years of age, before they start school. It is important that children receive all these doses so that they can build up and keep high levels of immunity to the disease.”
He continued, “Northern Ireland has uptake rates of over 98% for the primary vaccines by two years of age, which is an excellent achievement, but I urge the small remainder of parents whose children aren’t fully vaccinated to please ensure that they get all the recommended vaccines as soon as possible.”
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